How to Engage Customers (Yes, This Applies to Senior Living!)
If you’re scratching your head over the title of this blog post, step right up because the article is most definitely for you.
Below we’re going to discuss the following:
The biggest mistake senior living marketing departments make after a prospect becomes a “customer”
- Why you must continue engaging your customers (i.e., your senior living residents)
- How to engage customers after move-in (Hint: there’s an official name for this—it’s called “customer retention marketing”)
- What to do if you need help with your customer retention marketing strategy
The biggest mistake marketing teams make when a prospect becomes a resident: Thinking the marketing is done
Let’s illustrate this with an example:
Your hot prospect Mary Jones is the spitting image of your ideal buyer. She’s interacted with crucial touchpoints on the website. She toured your community with her adult daughter—and they both loved it. She signed the lease and moved in last week.
It could be easy for senior living marketing and sales teams to think, “Our work here is done.”
But consider this . . .
- Does Netflix think their work is done once they get a subscriber?
- Does Doritos think their work is done once someone buys their chips?
- Does Southwest Airlines think their work is done once someone flies with them?
Of course not. Converting a prospect into a customer is a milestone. But keeping the customer is an ongoing task called customer retention marketing. Or in the case of senior living, resident retention marketing.
Now, we know what you might be thinking. A subscription-based brand like Netflix needs a customer retention strategy since it’s easy for customers to walk away—they simply cancel their accounts. Does senior living need the same strategy?
YES. Resident attrition is a real thing. This article notes that over 50 percent of assisted living residents move out within any given year.
Bottom line: Your marketing shouldn’t come to a screeching halt when a prospect turns into a resident. Instead, your marketing team needs a plan for engaging with and retaining these customers.
Other reasons why marketing teams need to continue engaging with new residents
Remember, a resident doesn’t become a customer only once—they become a customer every time they renew their lease. That is reason enough for the continued engagement.
But here are other key reasons why your marketing should continue when a prospect becomes a resident.
- Residents can be an excellent source of referrals. They and their families can also be tapped for reviews on places like Google.
- Residents can offer insights into the marketing and sales process—including where you need to improve it. They’ve just been through it, so everything will be fresh in their minds.
- Residents can offer helpful feedback about the community during their first thirty, sixty, and ninety days. It’s good to get feedback from all residents. But new residents will have a different spin on things since they’re experiencing everything for the first time.
How to engage customers (residents)
Here are some strategies for engaging new residents and fueling your customer retention marketing.
Create a “Welcome to Our Community” workflow
Have you ever noticed that when you subscribe to a new service (like Netflix), you get a flurry of emails in the first few months welcoming you, offering tips and helpful info, and keeping you engaged?
You need to do the same thing with new residents. This welcome workflow should be just that—welcoming! Let them know how glad you are to have them as a resident, reiterate the key points and messages about your community, and provide helpful info (like dining menus, maps, important phone numbers). You get the idea.
Depending on your community’s age demographic, you might create a series of welcome emails, printed pieces (a welcome packet and subsequent flyers), or both. The “series” part is vital. This shouldn’t be a once-and-done endeavor. Focus on a 90-day plan (with the first month having the most activity).
Invite residents to participate in a “Your feedback matters to us” program
Your newest residents are the folks who can tell you if your marketing is accurate. Make it worth their while—offer the resident a gift card to Amazon, Starbucks, or a popular local restaurant in exchange for sitting down with a member of your marketing team.
For thirty minutes or so, the marketing person can talk with the resident to learn about their recent experience with the website, the tour, the sales rep—basically, all the marketing and sales touch points the new resident encountered during their buying journey.
Areas to cover include . . .
- Does the community meet the expectations that the messaging on the website, brochures, and social media promised?
- Do new residents feel misled at all? Were they promised one thing but got something else (the old “bait and switch” tactic)?
- Is there something new residents keep talking about in a positive manner that you have yet to hit on in your marketing?
- Are your buyer personas accurate? Are the people who become residents—and who are still happy 30, 60, and 90 days out—a true reflection of your buyer personas? Or do you need to tweak the personas? Or maybe add a persona you hadn’t considered?
- Was there something about the buying experience that the resident disliked or confused them?
- Is there something about the community they wished they’d known about during the buying process?
The above are starter questions. You will likely come up with others.
Ideally, you’d want to sit down with the new resident towards the end of their first month—and then again during their second and third month. The first sit-down would be the longest session. Then, you could sit down during the second and third months for a chat (again, offer a gift card as a thank-you for their time).
And here’s the thing: DO SOMETHING WITH THIS INFORMATION. This exercise has merit and can help you and your team refine your marketing efforts. Share results with the sales team as well. And if you hear something that other departments should be aware of—like dining or activities—follow up with the managers in those departments.
Invite residents to participate in a resident referral program
We discussed “Make Your Friends Your Neighbors” programs in our article about building trust and loyalty. Here’s how the program works: If the resident refers a friend to your community and the friend moves in, the resident gets a reward (typically in the form of a rent credit).
Create a community-based publication, like a monthly community newsletter, quarterly print publication, or both
A community newsletter or magazine can highlight residents, staff, activities, heart-warming stories, important news, etc. Residents and the marketing team should work together to publish it. It’s a terrific way for marketing to keep its finger on the community’s pulse.
You can also repurpose content for prospect-facing marketing collateral. For example, a resident who’s known for her gorgeous watercolor artwork can be featured in the community publication and on the community’s social media channels and website.
Do you need help with your customer retention marketing?
Call us! We always remind our clients that marketing doesn’t end once a prospect becomes a resident. We’ll help you calculate the lifetime value of your residents and how to budget for effective resident retention marketing. Get in touch, and let’s chat!